Mercer Island to pay $90K for withholding records

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A federal judge has ordered the city of Mercer Island to pay $90,560 plus attorneys fees for withholding documents requested by a former city official under the state Public Records Act.

Former deputy city manager Londi Lindell sought the records as she sued Mercer Island, claiming she lost her job in 2008 because she objected to the whitewashing of an investigation of city employees.

The city refused to turn over some documents that it had no right to withhold, including Lindell's calendar from when she had been employed. It claimed some of the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege -- even though among the records was an email in which the city agreed to waive that privilege. The city didn't disclose that email even existed until U.S. District Judge James Robart saw it when he reviewed the documents in his chambers.

Robart called the city's handling of the case troubling.